Monday, April 21, 2008

Singnet Makes It Inexplicably Hard to Access

For about two weeks, starting on the Saturday when we recorded our live show for the 65th episode of 65bits, has been inaccessible through Singnet broadband and wireless@sg. The only way we are aware of so far to get through this problem is to create a proxy at, port 8080.

I think we're pretty sure it isn't a block by Singnet, because 5% of the time it is accessible - a block wouldn't let that happen. It is clearly some sort of connection problem, something that unfortunately after many many attempted solutions, have not lead to improved connections, and our confidence in the services provided by Singtel has completely failed at this juncture. Particularly because of the lack of support from Singtel themselves, something that has infuriated us very much.

This problem has affected our listenership very negatively, especially in recent episodes, even though many of our listeners subscribe to our show through iTunes and our RSS feeds, everything still has to go through our site, and not being able to connect to Tech65 has impeded our ability to continue providing service as many of our editors are on Singtel.

My dear readers and listeners, please blog about this as well on your respective spaces. Let the blogosphere know in your own way about this bizarre problem, and be sure to let us know if you are encountering the same problem with your site. We hope to resolve this soon and get our shows back on the smooth track.

Thank you for your support!

*Thanks to Jerrick for cleaning up my muddly draft*

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rockin' Insanity at Xbox 360's 2nd Birthday Bash @ The Screening Room

Foreword: All the pictures you see are courtesy of MS releasing them. I don't really like to use others' photographs, released or not, and that's why I emptied my wallet buying myself a camera, but there's no point when there isn't a different point of view explored in my limited photographs to show off.

It started off for fellow podcaster Jerrick and I by being a bitch to find. It's a great location with a really exclusive feel to it, but abit too tucked away, and under that day's irritatingly wet conditions, it wasn't exactly fun treasure hunting for it. By the time we got to the door we looked like two tortured wet dogs, but dried off in no time.

Once we got there, we realized just how exclusive an event we managed to get into. There were sooo few people there! And for that we have to thank Geek Goddess Estee. Being a small community in such a small country, quite a few fellow guests were familiar faces. Sheylara, Sabrina, Uzyn, Arzhou and Nic A. Khoo were there. DarkMirage, probably Singapore's most famous anime blogger, was also there, to his own surprise apparently. The story was that someone from GameAxis, he even didn't know who, recommended him, and then there he was.

Sigh, it's nice to be famous.

The night warmed up as we got high on both alcohol and games. Seriously, I can hold my own with digital drum kits and singing, but when it comes to follow-the-combo for Guitar Hero and Rock Band guitars, I suck ass to the ends of the earth. Which according to Hans makes me a real guitar player, because we're used to strings and at least 16 frets, not five bloody buttons.


There was the mini games competition, with Bomberman, Guitar Hero 3, and Project Gotham Racing respectively, interspersed by the most awesome game previews ever.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Ninja Gaiden II (just because they sent an insane amount of screenshots)

UEFA Euro '08

I'm still high over the fact that I got to be part of the select crowd that got to see live gameplay previews for Ninja Gaiden II (fuckin bloody, fuckin cool) and Star Wars: Force Unleashed (zomg please just buy it when it comes out it pwnx0rz).

By some error of probability that would have stunned Pythagoras into a heart attack, my team, Ninja, won the games competition, when we finished second in Bomberman I think and third in GH3. Not sure how we did for Gotham. Our prize was an uber sweet exclusive GTA4 t-shirt. Problem was that it was far too small, so they offered to change it, but then the only larger size was crazy huge. See pic lower in the post.

After that was the birthday cake segment, where all of us were given unbearably cute cupcakes with the Xbox logo printed onto a white chocolate cover on top of the cake (see second pic at top of post).

I was surprised how easily we bit into the beautiful logo. But we all learn every day.

The finale was the lucky draw for a brand new Xbox 360, Halo 3 Limited Edition. Alan Chou, who in his words "takes care of Xbox in Asia", drew a number out of a container, and our host for the evening, Oli Pettigrew, referred to the guest list for the corresponding name...

And hesitantly said, "Ren...ho?"

It was then that I did possibly the second most embarrassing thing in my life (the first being my attempt to hold the hand of someone whom I had mistaken as my aunt. I was a little kid ok?? I was short!). Apart of my own volition I let off this crazy Red Indian Woooo0~!! that I have a feeling the girls we're silently impressed with. Good pitch and strength in it, you know? And so much soul.

My l00t. This pic is from my camera, taken by Jerrick.

Alan Chou showing how ridiculously huge XXL is.

Host Oli Pettigrew, Arzhou, and Jerrick

Photowhoring began, and our goodie bags were distributed as well. The highlight, an ultimate sexay black 360 controller. When I setup my 360 over at the new place, that's gonna be my personal controller. The rest of my normal mortal friends can use the normal white ones.

Also included in the bag were GTA4 coasters and stickers, which I might just give out... And a simply lovely Xbox 360 tennis shirt. The problem was that my goodie bag was apparently the S-size set.

I'm gonna get it changed.

And before I forget, hurray and congrats to me for winning, but fucking hell the 360 was a mamafornicating doggiegirl to drag from Tanjong Pagar home to Tampines.

Whether or not I had won the 360 though, I can safely declare that this was the best night of my life in a long long while. Congrats for Xbox for successfully reaching out to the new media community. As for the 360, now that I've effortlessly won one, my attitude to the gaming platform will probably be biased. But in the spirit of ethical journalism, I promise to endeavor to be objective as possible about it.

As for the games I'm gonna review, don't even bet that I'm gonna sugar coat anything. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Classmate PC

So I've been holding the Classmate for about a week and a half now, and I've said it and I'll say it again. I am going to sorely miss this lil' baby when I return it, anytime now.

What I adore about the Classmate PC its it's size. Many girls, and the more petite ones mind you, have stared in awe, as I rattle away on the Classmate's keyboard. Just like any miniaturized gadget nowadays, it is perfectly possible to adapt to its new interfaces, whether physical ones like the keyboard, or software-based interfaces. The external snap-on case also makes it so uber convenient - in two seconds I can jump from fervently rushing my work to snapping the PC close, gathering my things, and walking out of the train without having a thousand peripherals trailing behind me, or worse, falling away one by one.

The other major plus point for a self-professed buffalo like me is it's monstrous durability, and this as a personal choice makes it a very clear winner over the decidedly more sexy EEE PC. I've had such immense fun shocking the watery shit out of my friends by casually tossing the Classmate behind my back. For once, the combination of the crashing sound and the strangled cries as they feel unneeded pain for the Classmate is just hilarious music to my ears.

My dad was so impressed by its features that he's asking me to get one. I do hope to get it. Then it would save me from having to drag my big boulder of a Macbook Pro around by default.

Love ya baby. See ya soon...

The Intel-powered Classmate PC has just released its second generation. Read all about it at the official website.

Startup@Singapore Web 2.0 Talk - Failure to Winner

So I was at S@S's last installment of its Emerging Industries series of talks, talking about Web 2.0, with NTT. I have to admit that I was largely attracted to this talk because Kevin Lim was speaking (not that I'm attracted to him la shit but I always love to hear what he has to say). And the other two speakers, Vanessa Tan (Van Tan) and Stuart Tan, were also familiar names to me, so I thought it would be pretty fun.

It was quite a large audience. Interestingly a whole group of students who didn't seem any older than JC took up two centre rows of seats.

S@S, however, did a dismal job of webcasting Kevin over. They were doing it through Skype, which I would concede as the optimal consumer solution, but projected onto the wall, Haysoos Christ Kevin looked worse than a eboy picture. Nevertheless I was impressed with his casting setup - him with two PiPs - one with a side view of him and another with his theorycast logo. And that's not all - he had a scrolling ticker tape at the bottom which he could dynamically change on the fly. You'll see how he used it later on in this post.

But back to the S@S people's setup. How motheringly bad can your set up be? There are plenty of technically adept people to consult even if you don't know how to create smooth webcasting. Kevin had the view of only one cam, the laptop's webcam, and it was facing not the audience but the speakers on stage. Could have done a PiP like he did. They were using the laptop's built-in mic for Kevin's audio. Could have routed the audio out of the mixer in to the laptop. But noo! Built-in mic. For tech's sake you people you aren't small fry. Get yourself some bloody help la. Freaking give a student a $50 angbao to help you with the setup.

Having said that, I still think S@S should be duly credited for even trying such new and somewhat unpredictable technology. Other companies or organizations would have given up a first-choice speaker because he's halfway round the world; S@S went ahead and failed spectacularly at it, but I do hope they learn from it, because when pulled off, its just amazing and maybe, just maybe, awe-inspiring.

And then there was the moderator, who introduced himself as a first-year communications student, and who looked as though he was frantically called at 5 in the morning because the original moderator came down with a 41-degree fever. Then again, there's a chance that that happened.

First-year? Panel moderator? Seriously? Is it that hard to find a final-year? Or a toastmaster even???


He failed to intercept when a member of the audience booed VanTan (not that we were entirely pissed at the booer, who turned out to be Bill Claxton aka itr8, but still he wasn't doing his job), he seemed to be always caught unaware when the panelists finished answering, and was just generally not quite up to it. But, I like to see good in people, and at the very least, he was well-spoken and articulated.

Because of the earlier described setup, Kevin had a horrible time hearing questions - he mostly heard painfully loud white noise and static, as evidenced by the short recording he posted after the conference. Only the moderator walked down to the laptop to repeat the questions, and it was quite amusing when it was Q&A and he went. "If anyone has questions for Kevin, please come down to the laptop."

Enter NTT, itr8, micamonkey, and me! While the other three started Twittering Kevin the proceedings of the panel (some with opinions, some plain reports... micamonkey relied solely on her Nokia 3100 to Twitter. Talk about fastest fingers first.), I with my usual rational mind decided to turn myself into a speech-to-text machine, transcripting what was said to Kevin via Windows Live Messenger. For awhile, I struggled to type coherent sentences on the 9" Classmate PC, but then thankfully NTT swapped his Macbook, so I had the relative luxury of a 15+" keyboard to type on. It felt surreal and somewhat accomplishing, 1) pushing a part of myself to the limit (make what you will of it, but I just don't type that fast), and 2) seeing the concepts Kevin taught me come to life before my geeky bespectacled eyes, notably crowdsourcing and the gift economy.

I think I had to Twitter something, and koped the Classmate back for awhile. NTT found this so amusing that he took my camera to snap this priceless picture. I guess multi-tasking and four desktop spaces just isn't enough for my social whoring needs.

Meanwhile, Kevin was being a riot on screen with his ticker tape. Just look at his crazy statements!

He said later on Twitter that he felt he had to stop all his crazy tickertape statements because he felt he was ruining the whole discussion with his mean one-liners. Well I agreed with half of it. Which half? Go figure. :)

Kevin's since told the Tech65 team that his secret is this downright awesome Mac application called CamTwist. For free, this gem allows you to create PiPs, display pictures, logos, watermarks, RSS feeds ticker tape, and plenty of other plain cool effects. So Mackies, be sure to check it out, and Windowers, if you beg and plead enough I guess they'll make a Win version.

I can't emphasize enough how unprofessional I felt S@S was, but I'm not blacklisting them just yet, and hey, you shouldn't too. I think it's only fair to give them more chances, and we all learn some time or the other. Just for this event however, Kevin's madness and our indirect participation in the panel really made the event do a sharp about turn, from a doomed failure, to a priceless winner.

Just for us, at least.